Secretary of state announces lawsuit against Elbert County clerk over alleged election security breach

By: - February 17, 2022 3:07 pm
Jena Griswold

Colorado Secretary of State Jena Griswold speaks outside a polling center at Swansea Recreation Center the morning of Colorado’s primary election on June 30, 2020. (Faith Miller/Colorado Newsline)

The Colorado secretary of state is suing the Republican clerk of Elbert County, after the clerk failed to adequately respond in the secretary’s investigation of an alleged election system security breach in the clerk’s office.

The suit, which on Thursday Secretary Jena Griswold announced she is filing in Elbert County District Court, seeks to force Clerk Dallas Schroeder to properly respond within seven days to Griswold’s questions in the investigation and to retrieve voting system components, including two copies of Elbert’s voting system hard drives. Schroeder has said the copies are in the possession of two people, who Griswold asserts are unauthorized to have them — John Case, who is Schroeder’s attorney, and a “private attorney,” whose identity Schroeder has refused to reveal.


Schroeder’s actions have created an ongoing risk that unsecured copies of the hard drives “are being exploited by unknown actors to uncover system vulnerabilities that might be used to undermine voters’ confidence in Colorado’s secure elections,” the suit says.

“Critical information regarding the unauthorized imaging of Elbert County’s voting system hard drives has not been disclosed,” Griswold said in a statement Thursday. “I will continue to uphold Colorado election law and protect our election system. As Secretary of State, I will always protect the right of every eligible Republican, Democrat, and Unaffiliated voter to cast a ballot in accessible and secure elections.”

Case, responding to a message requesting comment, asked Newsline to submit questions to him in writing. He said he would try to answer the questions after reviewing the lawsuit. This story will be updated if a response is received.

Griswold announced in January that she was investigating Schroeder for a potential security breach after her office became aware of an affidavit he signed that said he made a forensic image, or copy, “of everything on the election server” prior to a secure software update in August on Elbert County’s Dominion Voting Systems machines. He failed to disclose how the copy was made or what security measures were taken, according to Griswold. In a subsequent court filing, Schroeder said he copied the election system hard drives on Aug. 26 with the help, provided over the phone, of Shawn Smith and Mark Cook. Smith is a prominent Colorado Springs-based “election integrity” activist. 

Schroeder is not the only Republican county clerk Griswold has investigated for an alleged election security breach. The first was Mesa County Clerk Tina Peters, who is under criminal investigation for similar alleged activity. She is accused of participating in activity that led to the release of election-system hard drive images and passwords to election-fraud conspiracy theorists. The Mesa County grand jury is investigating those allegations.

Peters was recently arrested as she was being investigated by the Mesa County district attorney for allegedly using an iPad to record court proceedings involving her deputy clerk in a case connected to the alleged security breach. 

Peters announced this week she is running for secretary of state.


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